Fun — and not-so-fun facts on International Chocolate Day

Posted at 6:07 PM, Jul 07, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-07 18:07:45-04

With enough chemical stimulation to rival even the best sloppy kisses, chocolate is one of the most powerful substances on Earth. And today just happens to be its day.

Let’s celebrate International Chocolate Day by getting the lowdown on all things cocoa, down to the sweet, sour and downright bitter details.

Technically, it’s a fruit, so maybe you didn’t cheat on your diet

Don’t feel too bad about that Milky Way you sneaked in between breaks at Jazzercise. Chocolate comes from a bean that grows from the cacao tree, so one can actually claim it as a fruit. Sadly, the cream, caramel, nuts and other delicious fillings do not fall into that same category.

For something you scarf down in seconds, it takes a long time to make

Chocolate production and processing are way more involved than you would think. On average, it takes 400 cacao beans to make one pound of chocolate, and it takes nearly a year for a single cacao tree to make enough pods for 10 Hershey bars. On top of that, farmers struggle to keep crop yields up, as cacao trees are incredibly fragile.

White chocolate is a lie

Some of you probably guessed this by now. But those with less sophisticated taste buds will be surprised to know that white chocolate is, in fact, not chocolate. What, pray tell, is this pale bar of sweetness that’s been parading as discolored cocoa? It’s just cocoa butter, vanilla and cream.

The world’s largest chocolate bar weighed over 6 tons

Weighing in at a hefty 12,770 pounds, she was definitely a thick one. This chocolate bar, made by the UK candy company Thorntons, set a record for the heaviest chocolate ever made. Unfortunately, after achieving said record, the bar was demolished, smashed into pieces that were sold for charity. At least the tragic loss went toward a good cause.

You may be eating some creepy-crawlies with your cocoa

The next time you cram a Hershey bar down your gullet, try thinking about all the insect corpses you could be devouring. That’s right. The FDA allows an average of 60 or more insect fragments per 100 grams of chocolate. Cacao beans are notoriously plagued by cockroaches and their droppings. It’s been suggested that people who have allergies to chocolate are actually reacting to the roach limbs lurking inside the bars.

If you eat too much of it, it could kill you

Too much of a good thing can be deadly. Chocolate contains high amounts of theobromine, a stimulant and blood vessel dilator, so it can cause heart failure, kidney damage and seizures. But you would have to consume a whole lot of it — 22 pounds of the dark stuff — in a very small amount of time. This is strongly not recommended.

Human rights are a huge issue in the industry

The cocoa industry has struggled with reports of human rights violations like hazardous working conditions and child labor. Nearly a million children are thought to work in the cocoa industry in Cote d’Ivoire. Some brands promote themselves as ethical alternatives.

Nazis tried to use it as a bomb

You heard that right. Nazis plotted to take out Winston Churchill by literally blowing him up with a bar of chocolate.

The plan was to coat explosives in dark chocolate and disguise the delicious-looking bombs in fancy packaging. The bombs would then be placed in the War Cabinet dining room, where officials met. Fortunately, the creation was discovered by British spies, and the lethal cocoa never reached Churchill.